News / Arts & Entertainment

March 20 Marks International Day of Happiness

File photo taken in Battambang province, Cambodia. (Courtesy Childfund.org)
File photo taken in Battambang province, Cambodia. (Courtesy Childfund.org)
Faiza Elmasry
In the Kingdom of Bhutan, the measure of the quality of life is expressed as the GNH: the gross national happiness. In 2012, the tiny Himalayan nation persuaded the U.N. General Assembly to establish the International Day of Happiness. It is a formal opportunity to consider what makes us happy.

The emotion is so important to our well-being that America's founding fathers considered the pursuit of happiness to be a God-given right.

What is happiness? We know it when we feel it, but there is no simple way to define it, says Joseph Panetta, spokesman for Live Happy magazine. However, he adds, there are certain components to happiness.

“Those things include positive relationships, a positive outlook," he said. "They include engagement, being engaged in your community and the things that are going on around you...Meaning is probably the most important thing. When someone feels that what they’re doing has a real meaning behind it, that’s greater than themselves, they gain a much more positive feeling from doing it.”

Being happy, he says, is essential for our health.

“We know from a scientific perspective that human beings are hardwired to perform their best when happy," he said. "People with positive and optimistic mindset earn higher incomes, they set and achieve more aggressive goals, have less stress. They are more energetic. They also recover from illnesses faster and, interestingly, they live longer.”

Filmmaker Adam Shell considers himself a happy person.

“I’ve always had a high baseline for happiness and my default goes back to happy and content," Shell said. "I like to laugh a lot and for me that’s one of my priorities in life.”

Shell has traveled across America, searching for genuinely happy people for his documentary, Pursuing Happiness.

“What we did is just reached out to everybody we knew along that route and said, ‘Who’s the happiest person you know?' And we got amazing responses," he said.

They found more than 360 happy people.

“We’ve interviewed people like in their 90s; we actually have a woman who is 104. We’ve also interviewed people who are two, barely able to talk but they have a perspective on happiness, and everything in between.”

Shell says those people didn’t let life’s challenges take away their happiness.

“There is this one gentleman who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio," Shell said. "He lost both his hands from elbow down in an electrical accident almost 25 years ago. Then, he lost his wife to cancer and had to raise his daughter on his own. This is a guy who it seems like everything that could go wrong in his life was going wrong. The entire time he was going through this, he maintained such high standards of attitude and emotion. He was always happy. He was always cracking jokes and seeing the lighter side of life.”

People, he says, are not happy because they are successful; they succeed because they are happy.

“Life is difficult in any way you slice it, no matter where you live, how you live," Shell said. "And I think it’s all about attitude. It’s how you look at the world. And when something bad happens, yeah you have to go through that; the negative emotions, the fear, the loss and the pain. None of the people we’ve interviewed has denied those emotions, but it's how you turn those around and saying, 'OK, I went through that, that happened, now want to get back to me. Now I get back to the way I want to be in life.'” 

Shell will screen segments from his documentary in New York on March 20, the International Day of Happiness, to encourage people to focus on what makes them happy.

That is also the goal behind the “Acts of Happiness" campaign by Live Happy magazine, says Joseph Panetta.

“The Acts of Happiness campaign will actually bring walls of happiness to major metropolitan cities all across the country. And these walls of happiness are meant for people to go there and write on them their acts of happiness, what they do to share and spread happiness in the world," Panetta said. "Happiness grows when you share it, when you spread it. If it’s not a city where there is a wall located, they can go to the website; actsofhappiness.org, there is a virtual wall and they can share and celebrate their acts of happiness.”

After all, he says, happiness is contagious, and you can celebrate it every day of the year.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”